Once again this week, I got completely swept up in American Idol’s Top 24 performances. Apparently it was “Showcase #3” as I guess “Showcase #2” were last week’s duets, confusing, but moving on.
When I saw last week’s contestant lineup, I was a little nervous about this week, but the deck was stacked with some incredible talent. To be quite honest, I went into last night’s performances having this season’s final two already in mind, and then a surprise frontrunner emerged.
Moving on to the Top 14
There’s nothing wrong with being a little confident, proved by Olivia Rox, who closed the show with Demi Lovato’s latest hit. I got chills last night during her performance. The tone of her voice was on. the. money. Harry and JLo made suggestions as far as stage presence, and honestly, I think that will come in time. If they’re looking for a solid bookend to season one winner Kelly Clarkson, I think we just saw a possible frontrunner emerge. I love that Olivia seized the moment and showed that you can showcase a big voice without singing a snoozy ballad. She has versatility that should carry her far, if not to the end of the competition.
I also thought Tristan McIntosh had another strong performance. Again, I love hearing the contestants showcase their voices with uptempo songs, because we get to see more of their personality on stage and they’re fun. I thought it was a pretty strong vocal from start to finish. Jennifer Lopez thought she was thinking too much towards the beginning. Harry Connick, Jr.’s comment kind of irked me, and maybe he has set a bar for Tristan, since she’s insanely talented, but he questioned whether she would perform that during the season finale. And duh, of course she wouldn’t, because she’d have weeks to hone her stage presence and I would hope that she wouldn’t sing a Carrie Underwood song, even though it will probably be better than whatever version of “A Moment Like This” the eventual winner will be saddled with. But anyway, I thought her look last night was on point and she sounded amazing. I think we’re going to see a lot of growth from both Tristan and Olivia this season.
Dalton Rapattoni “Daltonized” (as Keith Urban put it) Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.” I liked his interpretation of the song, but I can’t wait for the week he shocks the judges by singing a song straight up. I really can’t say much, because the judges love him and he’s continued to make strong song choices and brings everything he’s got to his performances, also did I mention that the judges love him? JLo was freaking out at the end of his performance last night. They all were kind of tripping over themselves to compliment his performance, so if you were to bet on which contestant is a sure thing to making the Top 14, place your money on Dalton.
Speaking of shocking the judges, Trent Harmon’s decision to sing Chris Stapleton’s “What Are You Listening To” probably took them by surprise, being that he’s done R&B and soul music for the most part up to this point. I think Trent showing another side of his artistry to the judges before the Top 14 was a wise decision, no matter what Harry says. Yes, it was an unexpected, albeit tremendous song choice (personally, I was hoping for some Sam Smith), but what a great opportunity to show the audience (as we are voting next week) and the judges that he can emotionally connect with the lyrics. JLo told Trent that she expects him to be around for a while in the competition, and so do I.
Middle of the pack
Manny Torres has a great voice and as much as I like Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime,” I don’t think it did him any favors during his performance. Harry and JLo both mentioned the importance of connecting with the audience and the lyrics and Keith, my spirit animal, thought he looked great on camera, but didn’t think the song worked. Do I think Manny is going home? Probably not. He’s got a fantastic set of pipes and decent stage presence, so no, at this point, I think he’s safe. But, he needs to remember that song choice is key. The wrong song can and will send you home during the competition.
I like Shelbie Z a lot. I’ve been a fan of hers since she was on The Voice. I quite enjoyed her performance last night. I thought she really set the tone of the show. Being that Harry referenced her performance while critiquing another contestant leads me to believe that she’s moving on to the live show. Keith did ding her performance by nothing she was singing down to build up to the final note, and if anything, these judges are calling everyone out about not singing the proper notes.
I thought Jenn Blosil had a bit of a rough night. Putting aside the fact that I don’t care for the Biebs, I felt like her vocal performance was a bit shouty. Harry called her performance “a breath of fresh air, although extremely out of tune,” which might have been the harshest comment made last night. I think all the judges really adore Jenn and the originality that she brings to the table, so I think she’s moving on, but she’s also one who I could see possibly being cut.
I’m pretty positive that CJ Johnson is making the Top 14. He had a great night with Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be,” both vocally and performance-wise. JLo praised: “Great song, great vocal, great performance!” Keith thought it was the perfect song and in the perfect key and Harry, to play devil’s advocate or something, said that he thought he sang it well, but to next time sing in tune. I don’t even know. The only knock I really have has nothing to do with CJ, I thought he did great and the song showcased his strong points, but it has to do with the fact that “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain is still an option for contestants to perform. Like, how? Yes, it’s a great song, but c’mon Idol, it’s the last season, get some more songs cleared. I don’t know why I was so shocked last night, being that Blu Cantrell’s “Hit’em Up Style” was still an option during the group round. Good news: CJ was great. Bad news: There’s a strong possibility that a contestant will perform “Against All Odds.”
I’ve just finished highlighting eight performers that should move on to the live show. Only seven will get to do so. See the problem?
Kory Wheeler had an alright performance of James Bay’s “Let It Go.” Harry commented that it was pretty good, but “wasn’t incredibly moving to me.” I would have to agree.
Adam Lasher and Amelia Eishenhauer were my auto picks to head home tonight, to be honest. I thought they both chose the wrong songs, “Black and Gold” by Sam Sparro and “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, respectively. Talent may be key, but song choice is everything.
I would also send home Lee Jean for the same reason. I absolutely love Ed Sheeran’s x album. “Runaway” is one of my favorite songs from that album, and Lee didn’t do it justice at all. To quote Keith, “You’ve got to find the right song.”
Song choice, kids.
Featured photo credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX